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Online Skill Games Flourish, Skirt Ban

For U.S. companies locked out of the lucrative global industry in Internet gambling, there is still money to be made — as long as they don’t call it gambling.

So-called games of skill such Spades, 8-ball and Solitaire are attracting more players online than ever, thanks partly to the growing pool of prize money available to winners and the tightening noose of federal regulation around online games of chance. Although revenue is small compared to those reaped by pure gambling sites, some in the industry believe that could change.

"This will continue to be a larger part of the online gambling market, although since there’s skill involved you can’t really call it gambling," said Sebastian Sinclair, president of Christiansen Capital Advisors, a gambling industry consultancy. "These games are better suited to the medium than casino games, because they’re more entertaining, and money is secondary."

Secondary to some, perhaps, but for others, the money is everything.

"We refer to this as competitive entertainment," said Stephen J. Killeen, chief executive of WorldWinner, which runs a game site that charges tournament players and head-to-head challengers about $1.50 for every game they play, while awarding winners roughly $3.20. "The idea behind this is ‘loser buys drinks.’ "

"And because these are games of skill, as opposed to games of chance, there’s an added dimension of, ‘OK, I have to concentrate on this,’ " Killeen added. "It’s not, ‘What’s this random roll going to show me?’ "

The generally accepted standard for legal gaming is that it must involve a contest where skill is the predominant factor in winning or losing; if a game is too easy or too hard for the participants, skill is less a factor in the outcome than luck.

Read the entire article at: Las Vegas Sun 

2004 Online Casino News Archive


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